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Atrovent (Ipratropium Bromide)

While homoeopathy and acupuncture are my preferred methods of treatment for asthma, there are many other alternative therapies. While it would be perfectly possible to describe them all it would be far too confusing and make it almost impossible to choose the most effective method. There is, however, one story of an 11 year-old called Mandy who is the daughter of a farming couple who always treat their ailments with herbal remedies.
Until the turn of the century the majority of healing throughout the world had a herbal basis and the reason for turning away from herbs was both political and religious. Fortunately some of the great herbalists joined together and published in simple language their knowledge of herbs and healing so that all who read it might seek, find, apply and heal. If a few errors of judgment accumulated here and there it was mainly because of limited knowledge of the condition. Culpeper, in the seventeenth century, produced his Complete Herbal which greatly enraged his colleagues at the time as it provided health for the poor; they could go out and search for the relevant herbs freely without having to worry about cost. Herbalism is one form of healing which is virtually impossible to control because anybody nowadays can venture out and collect the plants, make the medicines and take them.
So it was that Mandy was treated with herbs, as her farming family had taken them through several generations. The mixture they gave her was based on the herb Coltsfoot which was originally known as Tussilago Farfara. The name Tussilago translates into ‘cough dispelled and Coltsfoot has been justly named as ‘Nature’s best herb for the lungs’. The leaves are actually the basis for British Herb Tobacco although many additional leaves are combined with it including Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender and Chamomile which are used and smoked for the relief of bronchial troubles like asthma. This tobacco is most beneficial and without the injurious effects as is the case with ordinary tobacco. I mention this purely out of interest and am not suggesting of course that you should give your child something to smoke!
Mandy had her medication prepared as an infusion in the following manner. Her mother mixed together half an ounce each of Coltsfoot, Horehound, Thyme and Grindelia and brewed this with two pints of boiling water, just as you would when brewing tea. To this was added one teaspoon of tinctured or powdered Ginger and thirty drops of Peppermint essence. This was allowed to stand until cool and could then be heated up to drink in acute attacks or taken cold if preferred. To vary the flavour liquorice root or juice, honey or molasses can be added. I am sure that Coltsfoot is the main benefit in this mixture and I know one patient of mine who found she had plenty of Coltsfoot growing near her home so collected it carefully, dried it and then drank an infusion regularly in place of ordinary tea. She continued with this herb alone instead of any other drink and after six months was completely clear of her asthma. Certainly Mandy’s condition improved quite dramatically when she took the herb infusion regularly. Her parents had great faith in the herbal mixture and no doubt this belief was passed subconsciously on to Mandy. However it worked it saved her having to take conventional drug therapy. A herbalist friend of mine has also found that Elecampane is effective in asthma in children. This is one of our largest herbaceous plants which is found all over Europe and is widely distributed throughout Britain. It is also called Scabwort or Wild Sunflower. Many years ago it was sold as flat round cakes which consisted of the herb roots, sugar and cochineal colouring. A piece was eaten each night and morning to treat asthma, while it was customary when travelling by a river to suck a piece of root to prevent poisonous exhalations and bad air. The herb is rather bitter for children and is best combined with wild Thyme which makes it far more palatable.
It is exciting that alternative medicine is proving beneficial in treating mild asthma attacks. Certainly the preparation Ipecacuanha has proved effective in treating my own son Ross. Always, however, have the stronger conventional medication to hand in case the breathing deteriorates. Hopefully you will never need to use it.

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